St Mary Magdalene C of E School Helps to List East Greenwich Gasworks War Memorial
St Mary Magdalene C of E School is one of the 650 schools around the country involved in the Heritage Schools Programme which has been set up to encourage school children to develop an understanding of their local heritage and its significance.
Using newspaper articles from The Kentish Mercury supplied by Greenwich Heritage Centre, and information from local industrial historian Mary Mills, they researched the history of the memorial and the stories behind the names inscribed on it. They visited Charlton Cemetery to view the First World War graves, including that of gas works employee Sergeant Thomas Hayes, who died of wounds in November 1917. Working with Helen Spencer, Historic England’s Local Heritage Education Manager for the region, they decided to apply to Historic England to consider listing the memorial.
I have always lived in Greenwich and I believe that this memorial shows the bravery that our ancestors demonstrated. The fact the memorial has been listed shows the younger generations how important this really is and how it means a lot more than just being a stone.
We are delighted to learn that, with the help of our students, the East Greenwich Gas Works War Memorial has achieved listed status. This poignant memorial stands next to our new school building as a reminder of the terrible impact of the Great War on local people. Over the next few weeks, all of our Year 9 cohort will visit this memorial as part of their current work on the First World War and to pay their respects. We are very grateful for the work of Helen Spencer at Historic England for enabling us to educate our students about this memorial and for her work in the listing process.
This programme is a fantastic opportunity for children to learn more about the role their local community played in the First World War. Villages, towns and cities across the country were touched by the War and it is important that we help to ensure that the bravery and sacrifice of those who served is understood and commemorated by future generations.
It is always a joy to hear when young people are involved in projects and activities linked to their local war memorial and take the first steps to becoming the war memorial custodians of the future. The First World War centenary is a fantastic opportunity for young people to engage with local history, especially war memorial heritage and we hope that other schools and youth groups will also take this opportunity to record the condition of their local memorial.